I usually walk up to bring my girls a hot meal for their lunch break at school. Coming back, with less worries about time and what not, I took a little stroll through the woods. Walking very slowly, I could hear the thumps the snow makes when it falls from tree branches, and if you stay still you could hear lots of birds scampering and ferreting (see Shannon? I used it!) and I even got to see three woodpeckers.
If you cross the street to the side of my house, you are greeted with nothing but nature. Wild and abundant. When I was little, all I had to do was cross the street to go into a big apple orchard, and maize fields. A little bit further there were pecan trees, really tall ones, you couldn't steal any nuts anyways. And I thought, how luck I was to grow up surrounded by fields, by the quiet and inquiring nature of the dessert of northern Mexico, to see hills and valleys, and sand dunes. And how lucky my children are to be growing up in this completely opposite world, a raw and wild nature. Full of mystery, of secrets, of nooks and crannies. I grew up in a vast space, with almost no mountains to obstruct my view. My daughters can't see the sky if they are in the forest, as the canopy is so thick and lush...and then you come to a clearing and you see sandy and rocky beaches and a lake so grand it feels like the ocean.
As I hurry about, trying to make doll clothes for people to gift their children for Christmas, I thought to myself that one of the best gifts we can give to our children is the gift of nature. Of alone time in nature. Of communion with nature. A dress for a well-loved doll would be appreciated, and hopefully remembered, but the gift of nature will shape our children and stay with them forever. And it's almost always free (unless you have to drive or pay to enter a park or such a thing).
Parents are often heard telling their children: "don't play in the puddles, you'll get wet", "don't go in the mud, you'll get dirty", "it's too cold to go outside" "it's too hot to go outside" (i have said this dumb things before, I am not innocent)...and I wonder, then when? when are these children supposed to get in touch with the world around them? how are they supposed to establish a relationship with their planet, be it a city or a small town, if they are not ever in touch with it? how do we hope that our children take care of their world if they never had the chance to live in it? if they had mostly observed it from their car windows, in a movie, through a book, by watching tv?
We never know which experiences are the ones that will leave a memorable mark in our children's lives, but we can always try to supply as many experiences as possible. We can, along their side, strive to be in nature, to feel it, to just be outside. I know it is hard with current life demands, but one of our gifts to our children this Christmas, and to ourselves, could be just that. To be more outside, together. To take more walks. To play more games. To build something together. This is something I will strive more eagerly this coming holiday season, as by nature I am a home girl, and I love being inside my house, eating and knitting and reading books. I need to remember that my children are not my age, and they still need to feel the world around them, to later in life be able to seclude themselves on a nice winter afternoon, to read and travel with their minds. In the mean time, they need to live, out there. I hope this winter is not too cold! Wish me luck!!
**all these photos are from last winter, as today in my hurry I forgot to take my camera! but it looks "almost" like this right now.